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Florida Governor Bans Transgender Females From Sports; President Biden Declares June Month of Action For COVID Shots; Trump Telling People He Will Be Reinstated as President?; Infrastructure Negotiations. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 2, 2021 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:02]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: First of all, rash should also be forbidden.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: OK. That's -- yes.

CAMEROTA: OK, next: COVID cases are way down. Of course, it's time to get back to normal.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Or not.

BLACKWELL: Or not, because companies prepare to welcome back employees, but some workers are saying, nah, I'm not going to do that.

People have really embraced the work-from-home model. Bloomberg News reports one Atlanta area woman actually quit her job rather than go back into the office.

A poll conducted by Bloomberg and Morning Consult showed, out of 1,000 people surveyed, 39 percent, 39 percent would consider quitting if their employers weren't flexible about remote work from home. And generational difference is a big thing here. Among millennials and Gen Z, that figure is 49 percent.

CAMEROTA: Guys, get back in here. Get back in here. OK, we're here. The water's warm.

BLACKWELL: We're here.

CAMEROTA: It's nice.

BLACKWELL: Been here.

CAMEROTA: We have been here. Get your butts back in here.

BLACKWELL: I think it's the sweatpants thing. I really think -- yes. CAMEROTA: Get back here. Jeff Zucker says, get in here.

BLACKWELL: Jeff says, get in here.

CAMEROTA: OK?

BLACKWELL: And he says you can wear sweatpants too. I read it somewhere.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: He's in them.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: OK.

OK, top of the hour, everyone. I'm Alisyn Cameron.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

Any moment now at the White House, the president will meet with Senator Shelley Moore Capito. She's the West Virginia Republican leading negotiations on infrastructure.

CAMEROTA: Interestingly, this is a one-on-one meeting. And that really underscores just how crucial this conversation will be. There has been so much back-and-forth over the cost of President Biden's proposal. We may soon know whether they can actually get bipartisan support to get this thing passed, or if the Democrats will have to somehow go it alone.

So, with us now, CNN senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly.

OK, so, Phil, a solo one-on-one meeting. I guess that President Biden feels his powers of persuasion will work with Shelley Moore Capito.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Alisyn, I think your framing is good here, in the sense that, yes, White House officials have made clear that this is kind of a fish-or- cut-bait kind of week. They need to make decisions by the end of this week or the start or next week in terms of what their pathway forward is.

And that's why this conversation is so important, not that the two -- the two negotiators here are going to strike a deal. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki making clear they're not going to be trading paper, they're not going to be going back and forth on proposals.

The way this conversation has basically been kind of framed to me by administration officials is, this is going to be a discussion about what's possible, and if anything is possible. And you just kind of have to track back over the course of the last couple of weeks to understand the relationship that's developed between Senator Capito and President Biden. By all accounts, at least from the White House side of things, the two like one another. They both believe that the other is operating in good faith. And I think they both believe that, if it was just up to the two of them, they could probably figure out some kind of pathway towards a deal.

But it also underscores is there a lot of different equities at play here. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell making clear to reporters earlier today that he spoke with Senator Capito this morning, he thought a key to a deal was the White House's willingness to repurpose COVID relief money to finance any infrastructure proposal, something the White House has already taken off the table.

And President Biden obviously has to worry about Democrats on both sides of his party. Progressives want them to move on unilaterally, want Republicans basically to be cast aside for a bigger, more significant deal, while he has to be wary of moderates, who have made very clear that they want a bipartisan path forward.

So that's the balancing act that's going to be taking place. I do think, Alisyn, to your point, the idea that most, if not all of this meeting will just be one-on-one, there's not going to be staffers ringing the president and the senator in the Oval Office, they're going to try and figure out if something's there.

One thing to keep in mind from a top-line perspective, the president's latest proposal, $1.7 trillion, the Republican latest proposal, $928 billion, but only about $250 billion of that is of new money. How to finance those proposals, the two are in completely different universes.

The specifics of what's inside both those proposals, there are some areas of agreement, the kind of hard physical infrastructure, bridges, roads, things of that nature. But there are also elements of the president's proposal the White House views as an absolute necessity that Republicans have made clear are nonstarters.

So how you bridge that gap here -- and I promise I did not intend the pun -- is still very much an open question. But it's entirely the purpose of this conversation and whether or not they feel like something can get done, not that it's going to get done today, but whether something can get done over the course of the next couple days, guys.

CAMEROTA: Puns welcome, I mean, I feel, on this show.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: I think that's -- Victor disagrees. But I say we're pun- friendly.

BLACKWELL: No, I do, intended or unintended.

Bring them on.

(LAUGHTER) CAMEROTA: Yes, OK. Good. Good.

Phil Mattingly, thank you for all of that.

You have to hear this next story. It is vitally important to democracy. Former President Trump is taking the big lie to the next level. Not only is he falsely claiming that the election was stolen from him.

"The New York Times"' Maggie Haberman reports that Trump has been telling people he expects he will somehow be reinstated as president by August.

Now, of course, that's illegal. But some of those same kinds of delusions, of course, are exactly what sent the violent mob to the Capitol on January 6. It's not clear what led him to say this, other than the MyPillow guy, who thinks it's going to happen.

[15:05:06]

Also, ex-attorney Sidney Powell is feeding a lot of this garbage out loud. Here is what she said this weekend at a QAnon event:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY: There are cases where elections have been overturned. But there's never been one at the presidential level, which everybody will jump to point out. That doesn't mean that it can't be done. It should be that he can simply be reinstated, that a new inauguration date is set.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

POWELL: And Biden is told to move out of the White House and--

(LAUGHTER)

POWELL: And President Trump should be moved back in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Now, this was the same event at which former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn seemed to suggest a military coup, like the brutal crackdown we have seen in Myanmar, is not out of the question. And he now says that was taken out of context.

Listen, this false narrative from Trump is leading to real attacks on our election system. At least 14 states have enacted new laws this year that restrict voting access. That's according to the Brennan Center for Justice. And more are moving through the state legislatures.

CAMEROTA: In Arizona, a highly controversial ballot audit is still taking place in Maricopa County. It's apparently more than 50 percent complete, we're told. And, today, three Pennsylvania state lawmakers are visiting to see how

that bogus audit works firsthand. They say no taxpayer dollars are being used for their trip. But, of course, it is worth noting one of the lawmakers, state Senator Brian Mastriano, also charted a bus to take his constituents to the Capitol on January 6 for that attack, according to local media.

He even posed for photos with some in the crowd. But he says he never went inside the Capitol and never did anything unlawful.

All right, let's discuss all of this.

We have LaTosha Brown. She's a co-founder of Black Voters Matter. And Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

BLACKWELL: Yes, he just wrote an opinion piece for "The Washington Post" called "The Republican Plot to Steal the 2024 Election."

Max, you start out by that -- you build out this narrative where you say that they're now starting the steal. We have heard stop the steal, starting the steal. Explain why.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you have to put the dots together. And you have to ask yourself, why are Republicans passing legislation to restrict the franchise? And they have already passed those bills in 14 states. And in 18 other states, that legislation is moving forward.

It's not because there's any voter fraud to combat. There really wasn't. It's because Republicans did not like losing in 2020. And they want to ensure that that will not happen again. And so they're using voter suppression to prevent Democratic voters, especially minorities, from casting ballots

Now, combine that with the fact that there is reapportionment going on, there is going to be a partisan gerrymandering, and Republicans have an excellent chance to take back the Congress in 2022, because parties out of power usually do well in off-year elections, but also because of the gerrymandering and voter suppression.

So, what happens if Republicans take back the House and Senate in 2022? And let's say fast-forward to 2024, and let's imagine that President Biden or some other Democrat wins a narrow victory again. Is the Republican Congress going to recognize the Electoral College results?

I have grave doubts, because, already, in -- just a few months ago, you had a majority of Republicans on the Hill voting to toss out Electoral College votes. And if there is a Republican majority in both houses in 2024, they can effectively deny a Democrat the votes needed to win the presidency and then throw the election into the House, where it will be decided, with each state delegation getting one vote.

And, of course, the Republicans have more state delegations than the Democrats. So this could be a way for Republicans to override the will of the people and to install a Democrat (sic) in the White House in four years' time.

I wish -- I hope I'm being overly alarmist here. But I fear I'm not, because after the storming of the Capitol, after Republicans voting to toss out Electoral College votes, it really feels like we have crossed a Rubicon here, and Republicans are just heading in the same direction of this -- of what I call the start the steal offensive.

CAMEROTA: And, Max, I mean, your column is chilling, because then democracy as we know is over, this great experiment, if everything goes the way that you say it is in your column, and that we see with our own eyes.

I mean, this isn't just hypothetical. This isn't just a concept. We're watching it happen in terms of all these state legislatures. Maybe we can put it up, where all of the voting rights are under attack. I think we have a map where this shows where restrictive new voting laws are being enacted. That's in the red, OK? That's already happened on your screen.

[15:10:05]

And then the rest are just ones that are all -- are advancing right now through the legislature. And, as you say, Max, I mean, there's something -- like, in terms of the gerrymandering, Republicans have full authority to redraw 187 congressional districts. Democrats redraw 75.

I mean, it's just stacked against Democrats.

And, LaTosha, this is where you come in. I mean, this is your life's work. This is what you're trying to do, is stop all of these -- these voting restrictions. But, I mean, I don't want to be pessimistic. But how do you fight a wave like that we just showed on that map across the country.

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: The way that we fight a wave like that is that we have to create democracy by engaging people.

They're part of this process. While there's a short-term, I think, goal, that is, the impact of midterm elections, I think it's to really continue this big lie and to move that forward.

We also have to recognize there's a longer-term issue at stake here. And part of what has happened is that there's a shifting in the demographics in this nation. Now the electorate is actually getting younger, and no longer are the baby boomers the majority of the electorate anymore. Now they're younger voters.

In addition to that, you have voters of color. And now you have a nation that literally will be a majority-minority nation. And so what we're seeing is a lot of this, of voter suppression efforts that we're seeing.

While there is a focus on some of the short-term, part of it is not it is not -- it is part of to undermine (AUDIO GAP) democracy that we have, that, as we forward, that there will be a small group of people that will determine the policies in this country and in this nation going forward.

And so that is what this is literally about. And so what we have to do is, we have to organize. We have to organize on the local level, on the state level, and we need sweeping federal legislation, which is why we need the For the People Act and why we need the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act.

We need strong legislation to make sure that we're protecting the rights of voters in this nation.

BLACKWELL: So, LaTosha, you talked about organizing. We know that the president has designated the vice president to lead voter protections.

What -- you tell our producers you're optimistic about that. Why? What is happening behind the scenes now?

BROWN: You know, I think it's very -- I'm very optimistic about -- a number of reasons.

One, I think President Biden tapping Vice President Harris for this issue, I think that this shows the seriousness of -- this administration understands that this is a critical issue at stake.

Secondly, I do think that she is uniquely prepared for this. She is a black woman, that part of the legislation that has been happening has been targeted towards communities of color, of which she represents. And I do think that, coming from a legal background, being an attorney, being very vocal around voting rights and the need to protect voting rights, I think she's uniquely prepared to actually fight this issue.

And I think another issue that we have to really recognize is that the context of which of -- the context of the moment that we're in. I think she has a unique understanding of the moment that we're in, that, as we're going forward, it cannot be business as usual. This isn't just about how we recreate a fight that happened in 1965.

That may be a particular orientation, but now we have to actually look at everything, including the ending of the filibuster. Yes, that may have worked for other people 40 years ago. It may have worked for President Biden, but we have to literally think about what we are doing to move democracy forward.

And if that requires us suspending or ending the filibuster, then that has to be on the table as well.

CAMEROTA: LaTosha Brown, we always like your optimism and your energy. We hope that all of that can happen in terms of protecting voting rights.

And, Max Boot, thanks for the warning. Everybody needs to read your column.

BOOT: Thank you. CAMEROTA: Still ahead: Government researchers are testing whether

you will be able to mix and match COVID vaccine shots when it's time to get a booster. And when are you going to need that booster anyway?

We're going to ask a member of the FDA's Vaccine Committee when that might be.

BLACKWELL: Plus, disturbing new bodycam footage from that shooting at a rail yard in California. See what happened as law enforcement entered the building.

CAMEROTA: Is it following?

And we will speak to a sheriff in Volusia County, Florida.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:18:44]

BLACKWELL: Important progress in the fight against the deadly coronavirus. Now 52 percent of American adults are fully vaccinated, and almost 63 percent have received at least one shot. That's according to the CDC.

Meantime, 12 states have now met the White House's goal to inoculate at least 70 percent of adults. I should correct that; 70 percent of adults have at least one dose of the vaccine.

Now, the president is stepping up his game to try to expand that to all 50 states and touted those new incentives earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kroger announced that they're going to give away $1 million each week to someone who gets vaccinated at one of their pharmacies.

The NBA, the NHL, NASCAR, NASCAR tracks, they're offering vaccines outside playoff games and at races. Major League Baseball will be offering free tickets to people who get vaccinated at the ballpark.

And to top it off, Anheuser-Busch announced that beer is on them on July the 4th. That's right, get a shot and have a beer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Dr. Paul Offit is on the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee, and he joins us now.

Dr. Offit, how do you feel about Americans being bribed with beer to get their vaccines? And do you think this will help hit the 70 percent goal that President Biden has laid out?

[15:20:06]

DR. PAUL OFFIT, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, I think it will help.

I think for those people who need a nudge this provides that nudge, although you would think that enough of an incentive would be provided by having to avoid being hospitalized or killed by this virus. But if beer works, I'm all for it.

BLACKWELL: All right.

NIH. This is important. We know that likely we will need boosters at some point for the vaccine, six, eight, 12 months. Right now, no one knows. They're studying if it's OK to mix and match. Tell us the importance of that and when potentially we will know when we will need these boosters.

OFFIT: Well, I think that the critical question is going to be, what are we trying to prevent?

If we're trying to prevent severe critical disease, meaning the kind of disease that causes you to be hospitalized or go to the ICU or die, I would imagine that you would have immunity for at least a few years to protect against that. I mean, the immunity against more mild or moderate disease, that might fade over a few years.

But if you're trying to prevent a severe disease, critical disease, I think a few years would be the most likely bet.

I think the good news about sort of mixing and matching, if you will, meaning looking at the effect of, say, boosting the mRNA vaccines with these viral vector vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca, or a purified protein vaccine made by Novavax, is, I think that you may find out that you have longer-lived immunity, or you may find out that this combination works better for someone who is immune- compromised, like receiving a biological for their chronic disease, or that it's better against one of these variants of concern.

So, there's much to learn here.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Offit, your timeline is longer than I have heard. And I can't remember -- forgive me -- anymore if it's Dr. Fauci or who was saying that the boosters could be needed sooner.

I mean, like, I had heard eight months after the first -- after the second shot, which would be coming up. I mean, some people started receiving them in January or December. And so that's right on the horizon.

You really think that it will be years before we need a booster?

OFFIT: I do.

I mean, if you look at the studies looking at people who are naturally affected or people who've been vaccinated, and then look at sort of the frequency of so-called memory cells, memory B-cells, which are the kind of cells that make antibodies, or memory T-cells, which are the kind of cells that help B-cells make antibodies, it looks like the frequencies are pretty high. There was a recent study out of out of Atlanta done Rafi Ahmed and his

group to suggest that you would imagine that immunity would last for a few years. So I'd really be surprised if we needed a yearly vaccine, as long as we're trying to prevent severe critical disease. If we're trying to prevent mild disease, then you would need a sort of more frequent booster, but I don't really think that's the goal here.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this mRNA technology, which is the center of the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine.

There's good news that, potentially, they could help in advancing process on an HIV vaccine, also for respiratory illnesses as well, kind of backing to this great news. How big of a deal is this?

OFFIT: I think it's a very big deal.

We have sort of entered a new era of vaccinology, which is the genetic era. I mean, it used to be that you would give, let's say, in this case, the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, you give the protein itself, or you would give an inactivated form of the virus or a live weakened form of the virus.

Now what you do is you give the gene that codes for the virus, so your body makes that -- in this case, that viral protein, I mean, and the immune response has been amazing. And it looks like the safety profile is also excellent. So will this matter for making the vaccines that's been hard -- that have been hard to make, like a vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus or a vaccine against, say, a universal flu vaccine or a vaccine against malaria or better tuberculosis vaccine?

I think that's all ahead of us. But we have entered a new era of vaccinology, truly.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Paul Offit, thank you for all the information.

OFFIT: Thank you.

OK, next: Florida's governor signs of bill banning transgender women and girls from participating in sports in public schools and universities.

A trans activist who is also a champion cyclist is going to join us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:28:49]

BLACKWELL: On the very first day of Pride Month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans transgender women and girls from playing on public school teams, and that includes Florida state colleges and universities.

And after he signed the bill at a private Christian school, DeSantis explained the new law this way:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I can tell you this. In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boy sports. That's what we're doing.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DESANTIS: And we're going to make sure that that's the reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: DeSantis is the eighth Republican governor to sign such a bill. And now Florida joins the national culture wars over transgender rights.

Veronica Ivy is with us now. She is a transgender activist and a competitive cyclist.

Good to have you with us.

Let me start here. Republicans, and specifically the sponsor of this bill in Florida, says that this is about creating an even playing field. What do you say this is about?

VERONICA IVY, TRANSGENDER RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, I think you nailed it in the intro that this is really just a culture war.

Frankly, a lot of people promoting these bills don't actually care about women's sport. They don't materially support women's sport in any way.